Hey all, John here,
The story below was sent to me by Chris Bello, the marketing and branding director for William Murray Golf, and I thought it was more than worth sharing with theChive Community. It’s the story of one man’s survival against all odds and his journey to find success after a horrible accident. I have had the pleasure of meeting Jason Schechterle twice – he’s a Chiver, a father, a police officer, and an inspiration to us all.
“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.” Easier said than done for most, but Jason Schechterle actually walks the walk that he talks.
If you’re not familiar with the name, prepare for a shift in perspective over the next few minutes. I met Jason years back (through mutual friend PGA Tour player Pat Perez) and love sharing his story. Schech is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. He’s also a long-time Chiver who takes a lot of joy from this site; the humor, humanity and charitable efforts all hitting home.
“theCHIVE and that sense of community, it got me through a lot of dark days and rough times,” Jason has oft explained.
It’s a story that deserves a deeper dive than we can provide here. I also highly recommend this YouTube video.
Jason grew up like most; a normal, middle class life, raised in the suburbs. Family, country, friends, music, and a golf game good enough to earn him a college scholarship. He passed on that, though, choosing to enlist in the Air Force so he could serve his country.
Soon after, a second dream was realized when Jason joined the hometown police force, inspired by the death of Marc Atkinson, a Phoenix police officer ambushed and killed by suspected drug traffickers on March 26, 1999.
Jason was a Phoenix police officer within the year, protecting and serving his community. But two years to the date of Atkinson’s murder, on March 26, 2001, his world was rocked to its core.
Nearing the end of his shift, Jason took a routine call five minutes east of downtown Phoenix. While idling at a red light, a taxi cab traveling at over 100 miles per hour barreled into the back of his Crown Victoria. The cab’s driver had suffered a seizure, causing him to lose control of his vehicle. Jason’s cruiser immediately burst into flames, trapping him inside. For all intents and purposes, this looked like the end of the line for the 30-year-old married father of two.
Whatever benevolent forces there are in the world came swirling together in life-saving fashion that night, every piece of the puzzle completely dependent upon the next.
A firetruck happened to be stopped at the same intersection and in less than 90 seconds, first responders pulled Jason from the fiery wreckage. Another fateful coincidence: one of the nation’s best burn units – Maricopa County Medical Center – was less than three miles away. Between firefighters, police and paramedics on the scene, Jason was at the hospital less than eight minutes after the accident occurred, a miracle in itself.
As serendipitous as that all was, survival was simply the first step into a long, painful and hellish road to recovery.
Jason spent the next 2.5 months in a medically-induced coma, having suffered fourth-degree burns to his face, neck and head – fourth-degree meaning the burns go all the way down to the last layers of muscle and into the bone. His hands and thighs “only” experienced third-degree burns, while his chest, stomach and back were spared thanks to the bulletproof vest he wore that evening, which ultimately saved his life.
Upon waking from the coma, Jason learned the extent of his injuries. Burns aside, he also couldn’t speak, lost more than half his fingers and was temporarily blind. His vision only returned after a serum, made from his own blood, was injected into his eyeballs to get the blood vessels to respond.
Jason spent over five months in the hospital, endured more than 50 surgeries and slugged through endless hours of physical therapy. Where most would’ve quit or wished they hadn’t survived, Jason dug in for the fight, knowing he had a responsibility to keep going for his friends and family, as well as himself. Schechterles don’t quit.